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Jeff Pozmantier

Prediction: Israel and Palestine Will Reach Blue Heron Peace Agreement In 2016


by: on April 9th, 2012 | 6 Comments »

What didn’t happen at Camp David will happen at Blue Heron. But Palestinian and Israeli peace won’t happen before 2016: There are too many anarchists, terrorists, militarists, “sectarianists,” political apologists and lots of other “ists” — yes, even including journalists and columnists — that have too much vested in the Israel-Palestine blame recycling industries to allow peace to break out any sooner.


Emergency Committee For Israel Misrepresents Its Mission


by: on March 2nd, 2012 | 3 Comments »

This September 2001 ad, sponsored by the right-wing Emergency Committee for Israel, appeared in many New York City newspapers. / Photo courtesy of Maggie Haberman

The Emergency Committee For Israel (ECI) seems to more closely mirror a right wing Super PAC than an organization sincerely interested in helping Israel respond to emergencies. Or maybe my definition of “emergency” just differs from theirs. You be the judge.

Back in October, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC), two of the leading Jewish-American organizations in the United States, fearing the possibility that bipartisan support for Israel could become a political wedge issue, asked that Jewish and pro-Israel groups refrain from criticizing President Obama’s overall record on Israel. Specific points of policy disagreements are fine, they said, but to engage in an attack on Obama’s Israel record could risk Israel becoming a Democratic and Republican political football. And Israel would more likely lose in that game.


“I Want My Ball Back”: A Call for Israelis and Palestinians to Bridge the Mutual Distrust


by: on February 27th, 2012 | 3 Comments »

The wall between Bethlehem and Jerusalem pictured on February 7, 2012. Oren Ziv/Activestills

One line of graffiti on the wall in Bethlehem simply said, “I want my ball back.”

Wanting your ball back could be a metaphorical statement that, for Palestinians, simply expresses a desire for normalcy and to have a Palestinian state that is fully under Palestinian control. It is a desire, for example, to not depend on Israel to supply and control your water. That water is now delivered only at specified times and then stored by Palestinian families in their roof top water tanks, always hopeful that their limited supply lasts until the next distribution date.

Water scarcity is one of the reasons why toilet paper is customarily deposited in a trash receptacle and not flushed. It’s why ice is rarely supplied with drinks. It’s why anyone selling yard supplies would go bankrupt. And it’s also why several Palestinians told me when I visited Bethlehem last year that the next uprising in the West Bank may be over an Israeli plan to further limit the frequency of water distribution.

On the other hand, an Israeli may interpret the statement differently. “I want my ball back, ” could be seen as a hostile statement that threatens to take Israel into a Third Intifada if Palestinians still harbor a desire to, as one Israeli told me, “wipe Israel off of the map.” I clearly heard both conciliatory and extremist views during my visit.


Pro-Israel: What Happened When Supporters of AIPAC, J Street, AJC and the ADL (And All Points In Between) Were Invited To Meet (UPDATE)


by: on February 14th, 2012 | 5 Comments »

Last week, I wrote about my attempt to bridge the growing Jewish community divide over Israel. I thought (in my naivete) that I could bring supporters of seemingly disparate pro-Israel factions together. Those with tactical disagreements over how to best strengthen Jewish support for Israel would surely beat their verbal swords into plowshares and till the verdant Israel discussion soil. We might not agree on every policy, but we could certainly unite behind a shared pro-Israel goal.

Or not.


Pro-Israel: What Happened When Supporters Of AIPAC, J Street, AJC And The ADL (And All Points In Between) Were Invited To Meet


by: on February 6th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

I’m naive.

But not a Thomas Friedman “America can have a successful third party” naive. His naivete played out on his much larger world stage. Mine has stayed more localized. It didn’t drive my non-existent book sales.

Last July, the well known New York Times columnist was in between his various saving the world assignments (and pre-book tour) when he proclaimed that America’s political problems were so deep than we needed a new political start-up, called Americans Elect, to right America’s ship.

Friedman wrote, “Write it down: What Amazon.com did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what drugstore.com did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life — remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in. Watch out.”

I’ve watched.

They’re pretty much out. The “two party duopoly” is there for a reason: Stasis is powerful. Change is hard.

Which brings me back to my own naivete in believing I could easily go where few Jews have gone before—organize a diverse group of Jewish pro-Israel supporters to discuss their different views on supporting Israel, maintain civility, and try to find enough common ground that we could agree on limited goals.

So, on a weekday evening, quite unlike other weekday evenings, I reclined (and also passed on the bitter herbs, but that story is in my special holiday blog) and emailed an invitation to 45 pro-Israel Jews. By the next morning that single invite had birthed well more than the usual 2:1 opinions to Jews ratio of replies— including opinionated replies from several people who weren’t invited, but heard about this possible anti-Israel gathering from their reliable email sources, which, as in most cases, tend to be one or two friends of a friend of a friend. (Or Caroline Glick.)


What Pro-Israel Means To Prominent American Jews (And One Too Prominent Israeli)


by: on January 31st, 2012 | 3 Comments »

Such a BIG TOPIC that pro-Israel is.Moment Magazine published a fascinating series of interviews in its January/February issue — so BIG no one issue could contain it! — asking prominent Jews to define “pro-Israel.”

Some people had nothing to say, but they said it anyway. Some people had a lot to say and you may wish they hadn’t.

Some even cast votes for who and what doesn’t belong on the pro-Israel island. Caroline Glick, deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post, and fan of pro- and anti-Israel absolutes and using lots of “neo-s,” is my choice.

Glick would consider herself to be quintessentially pro-Israel,because she recognizes severe   internal and external threats   that other, far less visionary people, choose to either ignore or tolerate.In just  one recent article, her identified threats to Israel ranged from Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, to theBrookings Institute  and non-governmental organizations like B’Tselem and Peace Now, to “fanatical misogynists” — the Taliban not the ultra-Orthodox — to “Israel’s radical left,”to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta and U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman, and even to a White House and its officials who Glick says “exhibit classical anti-Semitic behavior.”

On Glick Island, the calendar is permanently stuck on 1967. Well over half of the Jewish Diaspora and most Israeli politicians outside of the current coalition, would have a hard time passing her pro-Israel citizenship test. Yet Glick does have a base and as you read the interviews in Moment you’ll recognize some Glick Island citizens.

Rather than summarize all of the varying views — Glick’s are, thankfully, not representative of the more thoughtful responses — it’s best you read them yourselves, including Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni’s refreshing  comments in a much longer interview inThe Atlantic.

We’re still on the appetizer portion of the pro-Israel series, so go whet your appetites and return soon for the salad portion…..

Note: I welcome your thoughts. If you email your views on what it means to be pro-Israel, I will include them in upcoming articles (and keep them anonymous if you prefer). The first part of this series can be accessed by clicking  here.

What Pro-Israel Means (Or Should Mean)


by: on January 29th, 2012 | 3 Comments »

The next several articles will focus on what has become an increasingly important issue within the Jewish community: What does pro-Israel really mean?

For Atlanta Jewish Times publisher Andrew Adler, pro-Israel means calling for Israel’s Mossad to consider assassinating U.S. President Barack Obama. Thankfully, Adler’s addled response to Obama’s supposedly anti-Israel policies and actions was widely denounced within the Jewish community and resulted in a U.S. Secret Service investigation of Adler’s views. Hopefully that investigation will be more conclusive than the effort to define what it really means to be pro-Israel.

Is AIPAC’s pro-Israel definition different from ADL’s, AJC’s, J Street’s or Christians United For Israel’s? What about the Emergency Committee for Israel’s pro-Israel? Or Obama’s? Or Newt Gingrich and Sheldon Adelson’s, Gingrich’s Israel puppet-master?

What about the Israeli government’s pro-Israel definitions? Which one gets chosen depends to a large extent on whether you are part of the ruling Likud party coalition or a member of the opposition, led by the Kadima party.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s definition leaves little room for nuance: Israelis know what’s best for Israelis and the free pass to rigorously disagree stops at the border. He won’t recognize or engage with pro-Israel groups if he feels they offer too much dissent from his government’s policies.

Yet, Tzipi Livni, Kadima’s leader, welcomes dissent as valuable and representative of the diverse nature of the pro-Israel Jewish Diaspora. She has even argued that by allowing for disagreement, Israel actually encourages more of the Diaspora to remain interested in providing support. (Gideon Levy, an Israeli columnist, goes a step further: He says if you are really pro-Israel, if you really love Israel, then you “must criticize Israel as it deserves.”)


All The News That’s Not So Fit To Ignore: A Hamas Leader Rejects Tactical Violence, Israeli Foreign Ministry Rejects Tactical Peace, Ultra-Orthodox Sect Rejects Israeli Ideals, And Mossad Chiefs Reject Idea Of An Iranian Nuclear Threat


by: on January 4th, 2012 | 4 Comments »

Ron Paul (or his newsletter doppelganger) is better at constructing conspiracy theories than I am, but his spirit must infest those Likud Party coalition members who rarely, if ever, consider any new analysis of Palestinian leaders or their actions. Anything (disturbingly) optimistic is presented in its most unfavorable light.

Even that minimal light is extinguished when it’s sent into the RELIABLE TALKING POINTS black hole, a place where the glow kindled by good news is doomed to never escape the gravity of all the well-worn talking points — the ones that start with history lessons on the Palestinians’ perfidy and then wander through decades of reasons why peace can’t or won’t happen.

It must be a conspiracy.

What else could explain the cone of silence (other than the Get Smart “The Man From Yentasale on eBay) when Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal announced that Hamas had decided to switch tactics and accept peaceful means to end its struggle with Israel? Meshaal even accepted the idea of using the 1967 borders as the basis for a Palestinian state. Yet he was ignored and the offer was called unserious.

Meshaal’s statement is one outcome of Hamas’ quasi-merger, quasi-who- knows-how-this-will-work-out reconciliation agreement with Fatah. By one interpretation, Hamas’ acceptance of the reconciliation agreement means they also accept (without the internal political difficulties of publicly declaring it) what Fatah has already accepted in prior negotiations — an end to violence, Israel’s right to statehood, a Palestinian state along 1967 borders, and a very limited right of return for Palestinians who were displaced in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Even though Meshaal’s pronouncement came with oversized public baggage — no immediate recognition of Israel or renouncement of the option of an armed struggle — if Israel truly wants to jump-start a moribund peace process, why not focus and capitalize on the points of agreement? Certainly there are risks in pursuing an initially imperfect peace process. There are risks in negotiating with people you have been fighting with for most of your existence as a country.

But there are larger risks to Israel’s continued existence as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people if it continues to wallow in and reinforce the currently dangerous stasis. A recent demographic study pointed to the fact that, by 2015, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and Arabs located within Israel, will begin to outnumber Jews.


The Christians United For Israel-Tom Friedman-Obama Controversies And The Real Reason The Oil For The Menorah Only Lasted For Eight Days


by: on December 27th, 2011 | 8 Comments »

An Israeli threat.

She acts and critics attack.

Supporters defend.

It is a “Rinse, Wash, Repeat” haiku that works in whatever sequence you want to place your emphasis, especially if you don’t care whether you violate the rules of haiku or the rules of stasis.But Israel and its difficulties can’t be condensed to simple English imitations of Japanese haikus.

So let’s try imitation proverbs that nicely align with the imitation Israel-Palestine peace process.

Here’s the first:The enemy of your enemy may still be your enemy. (This is especially true if, like Israel, you have a fairly expansive definition of “enemies,” and a limited qualification standard for friendship.)

And the second: Your real friends may insist you change. (After years of entrenched behavior, they may want you to remember your dreams or imagine your own potential.)

Unfortunately Israel’s expansive definition of”enemies” crosses over into its qualification standards for friendship. Call it Israel’s “if you don’t live here, you have no right to criticize” friendship duty. Your role, should you wish to join the pro-Israel friendship club, is to always support Israel in public.

Should you disagree, that must be done privately or you aren’t a real friend: It’s a hostile world and Israel must, at a minimum, ensure unanimity among its base — the (sometimes literal) Occupy Israel supporters.


Christians United For Israel: Israel’s Mistaken Embrace


by: on December 11th, 2011 | 7 Comments »

When so many citizens and governments of so many countries regularly bathe in an anti-Israel bias, why would Israel ever reject a loving embrace?

Christians United For Israel (CUFI), founded in 2006, is now the largest pro-Israel (see Israel’s pro-Israel definition) group anywhere in the known universe and afterlife — over 500,000 strong and bountifully multiplying. All committed and loyally engaged in their Biblical struggle to defend the home team by enlisting, along with AIPAC, Israel’s much smaller Jewish quarterback, as Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s American blocking back and unofficial coalition party member.

Just as Netanyahu feels he speaks for generations of Jews, as he proclaimed before Congress in May, Pastor John Hagee, CUFI’s leader, has proclaimed to speak for all right-thinking evangelical Christians — evangelical Christians who know that Jews are God’s chosen title holders to all of pre-1947 Palestine: In July, while speaking at the sixth annual CUFI summit in Washington, D.C., he said, “The land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people….they own the land of Israel!  The boundaries…are given exactly in the Bible.”

It’s God as The Supreme Cartographer.